Published on Apr 17, 2020 and last reviewed on May 22, 2020 - 4 min read
Any consultation between doctors and patients remotely is called telemedicine. Read the article to know the types of telemedicine and its benefits.
Consulting a doctor online used to be a futuristic and far-fetched concept a few years back. People found it really hard to wrap their heads around the fact that consulting a doctor without actually having to meet them personally is never going to be an option. Because let’s face it, this is how we have been trained to do things. Whenever we had a cold, cough, fever or any medical ailment, our parents would immediately take us to the family doctor.
But now, telemedicine is an essential part of the healthcare system around the world. This has made specialized, quality, and convenient health care services available to millions of people in areas with limited healthcare facilities.
In the current pandemic, with hospitals being the hotspots for the spread of COVID-19, many chronically ill patients and others are turning to telemedicine platforms for help. The Indian government made telemedicine legal on March 25th, 2020, as they recognized it as a potential way to help the population and curb the spread of this deadly infection.
Telemedicine is a tool, which makes healthcare accessible and cost-effective to patients. People living in rural areas, who have difficulties in accessing physicians, can now consult them virtually.
Such platforms help physicians and patients share information in real-time through their computers or smartphones. This skips the need for the patient to wait for an appointment, and also the travel needed to reach the doctor’s office or hospital. This concept of teleconsultation is perfect for the new tech-savvy population, as it is convenient, cost-effective, and intelligent.
The WHO (World Health Organization) calls telemedicine “healing from a distance.“ You no longer have to schedule an appointment with a physician to get treated. With the help of video and phone consultations, experienced and trained doctors are just a call away.
The following are some types of telemedicine that can be used to help patients:
Interactive Medicine - It is also called “real-time or live telemedicine.” While maintaining HIPAA compliance, this type of telemedicine helps doctors and patients to communicate in real-time. This includes both phone and video consultations. The doctors can get access to the patient’s medical history and can interact more with the patient
Store-and-Forward - This type allows healthcare providers to store and share patient information with a remote specialist. Meaning, the primary care doctor can share patient records with a specialist who is not in the same room. This helps the specialist know what treatments and tests other doctors have previously done.
Remote Patient Monitoring - This is mostly preferred by older adults, as it permits physicians to monitor patients in their homes. The doctors can use patient portals, which are online applications that let patients interact with their physicians 24x7, to gather information and help their patients. They can also share vital signs using digital machines to send them to the physician so that the treatment plan can be altered accordingly.
Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunication to support and promote remote clinical health care, patient education, public health, and health administration. The difference between telehealth and telemedicine is telehealth also includes non-clinical programs such as administrative meetings, medical education and training.
Unlike telemedicine, telehealth is a collection of methods to improve education delivery and patient care. Thus, it includes telemedicine and telecare.
Teleconsultation is the process of providing remote diagnosis and electronic prescription without the help of clinical examination. Here, patients and doctors connect with each other using the internet, telemedicine apps, and smartphones. Both doctors and patients will have to register themselves on an online healthcare platform like iCliniq.com. Then, the patient can consult a doctor either through a text message by writing down their complaint, symptoms, past medical history, or tests that are done, or they can call a doctor instantly or can choose a later time according to their convenience. The doctor will then look at the symptoms and test reports or pictures attached, and diagnose the condition, prescribe medicines, or ask for further tests.
Teleconsultation has been considered highly essential to the healthcare system today, especially with the current pandemic. With patients scared to visit hospitals and clinics being closed, teleconsultation might just be the safest and smartest option available.
Apart from this, the benefits or advantages of teleconsultation include:
No Travel - You can now consult a doctor from the comforts of your home. It also allows you to consult a doctor from other countries.
Save Time - The time you waste going to the hospital or waiting for an appointment are completely eliminated.
Save Money - Consulting a doctor online will save the money needed to travel to a clinic. And a single visit to the hospital can also be quite expensive.
Access More Specialists - No more waiting for referrals from your GP, as you can directly consult doctors across specialties. We know how hard it is to get specialists appointments, and even if you do, you have to wait for months.
Flexibility to Choose a Physician - You can see the reviews and feedback given by other patients. Based on that, and the information about the years of experience and certifications, you can choose and consult the best doctor.
Staying on Top of Your Health - The convenience of consulting a doctor online makes the patient more engaged and educated about their health.
No Appointments - This eliminates the need to book and wait hours for your appointment.
Confidentiality - You can now seek medical advice from a doctor through private and confidential chat. This is sometimes not possible in a clinical setting.
Maintain Medical Records - It is now easy to store, update, and view digital files and records all in a single place. It lets you access your medical records from anywhere.
Quick Second Opinions - Some conditions that need immediate treatment do not give sufficient time for the patient to get a second opinion. Teleconsultation plays a very important role here, as getting a second opinion is quick and easy online.
Some of the other benefits include:
It can help patients who feel uncomfortable visiting hospitals.
It makes quality healthcare services available to people residing in rural or remote places.
Consistent healthcare is made available even during a natural disaster or pandemic.
It eliminates the transmission of infectious diseases between patients and healthcare professionals.
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- With the help of telemedicine, patients can consult doctors for a variety of health issues. If you have a skin lesion, cold, cough, fever, psychological problem, throat infection, or if you are pregnant or want to know about birth control methods, you can use this service.
- The only thing you have to do is log in to your account in the telemedicine platform like iCliniq, and type in your complaint with symptoms for the doctor to see. If you want, you can upload pictures of skin lesions or test reports, based on which the doctor will provide you with a diagnosis and treatment.
Reasons to use telemedicine are it-
- Costs less.
- Is faster and convenient.
- Reduces the risk of transmission of infectious diseases.
- Is easier to get follow-up care.
- Has more specialists to consult.
All RMPs (registered medical practitioners) can help patients through telemedicine.
As of now, not all private insurance providers pay for consultations done through telemedicine. But, some of them do pay. You can call your insurance provider and confirm if they cover such online services.
Different countries have different guidelines and regulations for telemedicine. But the general idea being, practitioners should maintain the same standards while delivering services online as when they consult a patient in-person. Check with your country’s regulation for prescribing drugs online.
The best thing about telemedicine is that you can use it almost all the time unless it is a medical emergency. You can use it for almost all your health ailments, but some of the most common reasons why patients use telemedicine are:
- When they are on vacation.
- When the doctor’s office is closed.
- If they need to refill their prescription.
- If they do not have time to visit the doctor in-person.
- When they want to visit the hospital with their children.
- To get their lab reports interpreted.
The following are some ways in which telemedicine is changing our society:
- Help diagnose and treat strokes earlier.
- It allows patients to undergo rehab at home.
- Improve healthcare in rural areas.
- Encourage diabetic patients to adopt healthier behavior.
- It helps patients manage other chronic conditions.
- Provide convenient mental health consultations for children and adults.
- It encourages people to lead a healthier life.
Yes, it does. Emergency rooms cost a lot more money and the waiting time is huge. You also cut down on the money required to go to the hospital.
Do you have a question on Telemedicine or Telehealth?Ask a Doctor Online